Sunday, November 29, 2009

Pulled toward Leather

As much as I love painting, there are times I need to work on three dimensional projects. A few times, I have combined a painted canvas with some assemblage attached. Other times, I like to play with assemblage, bookbinding, themed art journals, shrines, painting glass and ceramics, and such.

Since last year, I’ve taken baby steps learning about leather, making little leather purses for gift cards using using random leather scraps. Online, I found instructions for simple things like setting a snap. Here is the practice one I kept:

The next ones, I measured with a ruler and an awl to get evenly spaced holes for the lacing.

Leather art caught my eye at my very first Renaissance fair many years ago. One vendor had leather journals, checkbook wallets, belts, mostly in a Celtic theme. I was overwhelmed by the choices and finally settled on a refillable Celtic journal in turquoise. The intricacy and details of
Oberon Design reminds me of that craftsmanship.

When I saw these unique wallet and handbags in a GaelSong catalog recently, I was very intrigued.

Thanks to the wonderful Internet, I discovered C. L. Whiting. Since I love using leaves in my own work, I am drawn to these designs. This artist’s works are amazing, exquisite, and fabulous!

Curiosity about this tough, flexible material intensified after discovering it could be used as both the support and cover for handmade books. Having made a few books now, I am fascinated with color combinations, detailing of spine stitches, and closure styles (buttons, leather strips, buckles, latches, etc.).

From the little I’ve researched, you can stamp emboss, carve, paint, dye, and even brand leather. I have one of those multi-function heat tool that can burn leather but haven’t tried it yet. You could really get creative and use your own designs on untreated leather ovals, squares, rectangles, and bookmarks.

It’s odd that leather isn’t more prominent in mixed-media books and magazines, isn’t it? Does it still have connotations of being a craft that only the boy scouts or summer camp kids use? Are there any leather crafters out there? Tell us about your experiences.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Art Surrounds Us

Last week, while serving on a jury downtown, I discovered art and architectural gems around every corner. Although it was overcast and I was using an unfamiliar camera, I had fun!

What have you discovered recently?

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Experimenting with Collagraphs

Celtic Horse
acrylic on computer paper
8.50” x 11”

Have you ever tried making a collagraph? It is a type of printmaking where you build up the surface, rather than subtracting (as in making a stamp). You can use any kind of firm material for the base (cardboard, mat board scraps, canvas board, etc.) with various glued down flat objects (leaves, fabric, coins, etc.). With such a range of ingredients, it can be very creative.

Long wanting to make a collagraph, I could not settle down and decide on a premeditated design so I looked on my shelves, thinking about what size to use and found an unfinished painting on Gessobord. It had been an experiment—the first time I had tried using an acrylic medium called string gel. Dipping a palette knife in the jar, I then lifted it and swirled it over a section of the rigid surface.

Now, I was curious—would it make a good collagraph? Since it already had a raised design on the surface, I wouldn’t have to wait for everything to dry overnight (or longer). Bonus--I could play now!

Trying various papers and full-body acrylic paints on hand, I first tried rolling paint on a brayer and transferring it to the raised design. It didn’t work very well, so I switched, using a brush to put paint on the hardened string gel. This yielded much better results.

Limiting myself to just three colors (blue, teal, brown), I began to see a horse’s eye, a muzzle, and then an abstract body. The swirls reminded me of Celtic knots and spirals. Cool!

I tried other variations, using Cotman 140 lb. w/c paper, inkjet translucent vellum, and beige cardstock. Surprisingly, the plain computer paper showed the most details.